Why Nordic Parents Leave Their Babies Outside to Nap in the Cold?
Parenting is undoubtedly one of the most challenging roles a person can undertake. World over, there are several unique and strange parenting practices. One such practice in the Nordic countries that has caught the eyes of netizens is babies napping in freezing temperatures! As shocking as it may sound, it is a common tradition that has been practiced for generations. Let’s understand why and how this became so commonplace for parents in these countries.
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It’s Common to See Babies Napping in Freezing Temperatures in Prams Parked in the Snow
Strolling through the streets of countries like Sweden or Denmark during the winter months is a daunting task for many tourists. Temperatures can drop well below freezing, with the lowest recorded temperature ever reaching –18.76 °F (-28.2 °C) in Sweden’s capital, Stockholm. However, even when the mercury drops that low, prams can be seen parked outside shops, cafes, and in snowy parks with swaddled infants enjoying their deep slumber.
This is by no means a new practice in this region. However, it caught the attention of netizens when Danish musician Amalie Bruun shared a post in which she stated her four-month-old son sleeps outside in their garden most of the time. This post prompted other Nordic parents to share their own experiences with the same practice, but it does not stop at just them.
Proof that they really do nap babies outside at daycare here in Sweden 🤣 Saga loves it. pic.twitter.com/5rmNutj3VA
— Shameless Maya (@mayasworld) October 20, 2022
Day-care centers in Sweden also put the children out to rest in the cold. Forskolan Orren, a pre-school in Stockholm, leaves all the children out to sleep until they reach the age of three. One group at this school spends all their time outside, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. every day!
But Why Let Little Children Sleep in the Cold when they Could Be Toasty and Warm Inside?
Nordic parents claim that sleeping outside in sub-zero temperatures promotes various health aspects for their children. The theory states that napping in the fresh air, be it summer or peak winter, reduces the chances of babies catching illnesses like coughs and colds. They also claim that their infants get better sleep than when kept outside.
A study conducted in 2008 with parents from northern Finland found that children took longer naps when outdoors in temperatures ranging between -16.6 °F to -41 °F (-27 °C to +5 °C). While some parents did find that their infants’ fingers were cold and some had sweaty necks, they stated their experiences had been mostly positive. The most common negative symptoms were red cheeks and cold nose tips.
Marjo Tourula, a contributor to the 2008 study, speculates that the cold paired with restriction from swaddling the baby could promote lengthier naps. The colder environment also prevents overheating from swaddling. Research found that 23 °F (-5 °C) was the ideal temperature for an outdoor nap, but some parents put their children out even at -22 °F (-30 °C).
However, there Are Some Things to Keep in Mind when the Little Ones Nap
Even if most experiences from parents have been positive, experts and consultants are still wary of the practice. Babies napping in freezing temperatures may have its benefits, but it also comes with risks.
Ensuring the child does not feel too cold is the first and most important aspect. Infants cannot regulate their body temperature as well as adults; a baby’s body temperature can drop four times as fast as an adult! Without sufficient attention to keeping the child warm, the likelihood of hypothermia can increase greatly.
Ensuring the child is easily reachable and observable is of paramount importance. Nordic countries such as Finland, Denmark, and Iceland frequently rank at the top of some of the happiest countries in the world, with low crime rates. Regardless, the possibility of abduction should never be dismissed when leaving a child outside on their own.
With adequate preparation and care, babies napping in freezing temperatures continue to be a long-standing tradition in the Nordic regions that does not show any signs of fading away!
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